About Ongoing Extreme Financial Hardship
First part of the advice is do not delay in looking for help.
Resolving ongoing extreme financial hardship can involve consumer credit counseling, housing counseling, legal services including bankruptcy counseling and gaining an understanding of government support programs such as Medicaid and public housing. Often the starting point is a professional credit counselor. There are also professional housing counselors that can offer advice on mortgages, low cost legal services and other financial assistance programs.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck or social security check to social security check, and worried about debt collectors, making your rent and not having enough to eat, then you should consider taking steps to solve the problem.
You may end up having to make difficult decisions in regard to your lifestyle, family and where you live. Making these difficult decisions will help you find a long term solution for your financial hardship and a way for you to live within your means with less stress.
Good places to start if you are in need of counseling and services to resolve ongoing extreme financial hardship:
Call 2-1-1 or visit their website
2-1-1 is a free and confidential service provided by United Way and funded by community foundations, Federal, state and local governments. The 2-1-1 program serves all ages across the United States. They have lists of financial assistance, credit and housing counseling services and legal resources by geographic area on their website or call them through the 2-1-1 phone number and speak with a trained services professional. Keep in mind that some areas of the country may have fewer or more assistance programs than others. 2-1-1 also lists mental health services if you are stressed from facing ongoing financial hardship.
Note: The 211.org website lists many other types of resources and services to help people in need.
Your Local Area Agency on Aging
Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 – Monday – Friday, 9AM – 8PM ET
For older adults, your local Area Agency on Aging can be a referral source for financial resources and other services that help seniors. Call the Eldercare Locator to find your local agency. The Eldercare.gov website has a searchable database that lists information about different types of senior resources and also lists some local resources by state.
- Have a Notebook Handy – When calling to ask for assistance have a notebook handy and take notes on the information you are given. Take the complete name of the person you are speaking with and their title or operator number; have them repeat the phone number you called, the name of agency and their website address. If something sounds too good to be true, then call in a day or two and make sure you get the same information the next time you call. If you are not given the same information, then bring up the previous conversation and try to get clarification. If possible or appropriate, ask for a case number or incident number so that when you call in next, your information can be accessed.
- Look at the Organization’s Website – If you have Internet access, go to the organization’s website and check out their resources online. Often more details about programs are posted on a website than what you can get if you just call the organization.
- Access to the Internet – More and more it is important to have Internet access to look at organizations’ websites. If you do not have a computer at home and Internet access, then you can often find computer and Internet access at libraries, senior centers, and some non-profit organizations offer assistance with Internet access
Types of Assistance for Extreme Financial Hardship
Assistance for extreme financial hardship can include the following:
Note: These are topics that you can ask for referrals for from 2-1-1
- Credit Counseling
- Housing Counseling
- Legal Services
- Other Support Services – While you work your way through the process of resolving your extreme financial hardship remember that 2-1-1 and the local Area Agency on Aging can direct you to:
- Food Resources
- Financial assistance to pay utility bills
- Financial assistance to pay rent
- Home repair financial assistance
- Financial assistance for healthcare
- Referrals on fair housing and transitional housing
- Charitable organizations offering assistance
The BenefitsCheckUp website helps you find state, Federal, and private benefits programs available where you live, that can provide assistance with prescriptions, health care, food, utilities, and more.
Another type of financial assistance is to start a GoFundMe page that solicits donations for a specific issue or debt incurred by the person. GoFundMe is what is known as a crowd funding website.
- Note: If you are on Medicaid or living in income qualifying housing, then the funds raised through a GoFundMe account can impact your eligibility for those programs.
- A GoFundMe drive is best shared with family and friends
Other Financial Hardship Resources
Below are links to websites with additional information about financial hardship:
- Benefits.gov – https://www.benefits.gov/
- Federal Trade Commission – Choosing a Credit Counselor – https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor
- Navicore Financial Counseling – https://navicoresolutions.org/